DOT thanks PH Red Cross for reducing price of PCR tests

Published November 19, 2020, 3:42 PM

by Hanah Tabios

The Department of Tourism (DOT) is grateful to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) for its initiative to reduce the testing price of the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) to help boost tourism especially in the new normal scenario.

A taxi driver (R) gets tested by health workers (L) for coronavirus COVID-19 at a makeshift testing station in a carpark in Hong Kong on July 19, 2020. - The deadly coronavirus is spreading out of control in Hong Kong with a record 100 new cases confirmed, the finance hub's leader said as she tightened social distancing measures to tackle the sudden surge in infections. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)

During the plenary hearing on the 2021 Fiscal Year budget of the DOT on Nov. 17, Sen. Richard Gordon, who also chairs the PRC, told senators and tourism officials that the humanitarian organization will be reducing the testing price to the lowest possible.

From the average testing price of P4,000, Gordon said that the PRC will bring it down to P3,300 and eventually to P3,200 to allow more people to get tested.

The RT-PCR test remains the gold standard of COVID testing as a requirement for domestic travel.

But even with the reopening of major tourist destinations, the high cost of testing remains a deterrent.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has actively asked for cooperation among Department of Health (DOH)-accredited facilities to make antigen and RT-PCR testing more affordable to encourage domestic travel and help restore livelihood to tourism areas.

The tourism chief also noted that an accessible and cheaper RT-PCR test, to be made available by the PRC, will have a positive impact on the tourism industry, the economy, and to the people, as the country strives to recover from the economic slump caused by community lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

As travel barriers continue to affect tourism, inbound tourist receipts from January to October this year plunged by around 80 percent, translating to losses of about P317 billion compared to the same period last year.

“Greater access and affordability of the test will mean more Filipinos can return to their hometowns, undertake travel for leisure, business, health, education or MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) and visit family and friends,” Puyat said.

Meanwhile, the DOT calls on all travelers to do their share for responsible and safe tourism by complying with health and safety protocols set in place by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases ( IATF-EID) and the local government units of chosen destinations.